Schwarz-Schilling: Annuling Srebrenica report is pointless

Source: N1

Annulling a list of suspects of the Srebrenica genocide, as requested by Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, will be pointless because the "Republika Srpska Parliament cannot dispute the existence of these lists," the former top international official in Bosnia, Christian Schwarz-Schilling, told Deutsche Welle.

The statement comes after the Association of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), the party in power in Republika Srpska (RS), Bosnia’s Serb-dominated semi-autonomous entity, last week asked for a 2004 report on Srebrenica to be annulled.  

The report, which the RS government founded Commission for Srebrenica had put together, acknowledged that thousands of Muslim Bosniaks were killed after the eastern Bosnian town was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces and that the executions represented a serious violation of humanitarian law.  

The move to annul the report is spearheaded by RS President and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, who has for years been claiming that what happened in Srebrenica was not genocide but propaganda placed by Bosniaks and the international community.  

According to him, the report should have been annulled long ago, as it has been used for various manipulations.  

The RS National Assembly (Parliament) is on Monday to discuss when the initiative will be on the agenda.

Dodik’s move comes after the head of the association of families of Srebrenica genocide victims handed over a list of 22.000 suspects of the crime to German prosecutor Klaus Zorn in early July, with the request to check whether any of them are hiding in Germany and if so, to make them face justice there.  

Schwarz-Schilling, who between 2006 and 2007 was the Head of the Office of the High Representative, in charge of overseeing the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Treaty, said that this “would not be the first time that the RS Parliament adopts impossible and senseless decisions.”

“Nothing will happen” should the RS Parliament decide to annul the report, he said.  

The RS Government was pressured to form the Commission on Srebrenica which had the goal of initiating an investigation into who was a member of the RS Army during the time when the genocide took place.  

The lists that were submitted to the RS Government as part of the report should have been the basis for the RS to begin investigating individuals named in it, he said.  

“That would have been the right thing to do in order not to have the entire Republika Srpska be blamed. So, it was necessary to get familiar with the details and submit indictments against each perpetrator,” he said.

This, according to the ex-High Representative, was the whole point of the list.

However, nothing was done afterward, he said.  

Now, this list is in the hands of the German Prosecutor’s Office (Bundeskriminalamt), and its chief, Klaus Zorn, said his Office has the obligation to look into it. 

“They have a basis in international law for this, as well as in the German law and the UN Treaty,” he said. 

Schwarz-Schilling said that Dodik’s latest move is probably a “pre-election maneuver.”  Bosnia will hold its general election on October 7 this year and Dodik is running for Bosnia’s tripartite State Presidency, where he is hoping to represent Bosnian Serbs.  

“Now a new theme has been found, with which they want to say ‘we are not to be blamed, everything about the list is false and now we will decide about it.’ I must say, it is a senseless decision,” Schwarz-Schilling said.  

Dragan Cavic, who served as the RS President when the list was adopted, said at the time that what happened in Srebrenica constitutes “a black page in the history of the Serb people,” Schwarz-Schilling pointed out. 

“The current attitude toward that list (…) can only bite them back as the international community will now deal with the entire Srebrenica case anew,” he said.  

The move also shows that Dodik is trying to question the crime, as if it never happened, he said.  

“This has nothing to do with the Parliament, but with the judiciary. The Parliament has no say in it,” Schwarz-Schilling said, adding that Dodik is doing this in order to halt any investigation into the 22,000 names on the list.  

“He thinks he can stop it this way. But according to international law, a trial can be initiated against anyone who is on such a list outside of Republika Srpska as well, everywhere and at any time. Nobody can prevent this,” he said.  

The former High Representative does not believe all the voters will agree with Dodik.  

“I cannot believe that all the people will follow this course. This is the course of the current government, which has the Parliament in its grip. There is no bottom-up democracy there, everything is done top-down,” he said.  

The RS, Schwarz-Schilling said, was the “totalitarian part of Bosnia”, and it is trying to become a separate state.  

“Dodik is always trying to silence the opposition. But he will not succeed. This raises the question if the election will be manipulated and that is a separate issue,” he said.  

“This is the reason for why the international community and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) must carry out strict controls so that the results can be verified,” he said.

The SNSD replied to the statements by the former High Representative later on Monday.  

“That document was abused as a reason for putting together a list of 22,000 members of the Army of Republika Srpska against whom today the German judiciary is conducting a completely unfounded and illegitimate investigation, which we must prevent,” said the SNSD’s spokesperson, Radovan Kovacevic.  

“We all know that High Representatives are the killers of democracy, rule of law and laws. They have in the past ousted legally elected representatives of the people, imposed laws as they liked, changed the Constitution, threatened, and implemented those threats,” he said.  

“It is striking that Christian Schwarz-Schilling himself is saying the report was adopted under OHR pressure, which shows that he still thinks that the dictatorial behaviour of the lord-protector for Bosnia and Herzegovina is legitimate,” he concluded.